HEADS OTAIL

 Our heads; your tale

March 5, 2013

Race to the start!

Nice-Guys-Finish-Last-or-Not-at-All

Hi HOT,

I wouldn’t normally contact someone just out of the blue for something like this, but the fact is I just don’t know what to do.

I’ve known this girl for over three years. We’ve always been friends, and I honestly just like spending time with her. She’s always been in a relationship, though, so I never really thought of myself as having a chance with her. We’d hang out at school all the time (we were freshman when we met, and we’re seniors now), but again, it wasn’t because I was just trying to get in her pants. A month or two ago, she broke up with her boyfriend of two years. I watched their relationship fall apart, and to be honest, though her boyfriend was one of my friends, I found myself getting pretty angry at him by the end of it; he never gave her any of the attention she deserved — he rarely showed any emotions, he didn’t ask her to prom, etc. It was about the time that they broke up that I realized I had fallen for her somewhere during the time that they were falling apart. Here’s the problem, though: I was so confused by these feelings that I never was able to talk to her about it, whether because I’m shy, a “nice guy” (passive-aggressive; I’d like to think it’s not that), or whatever.

Well, while I was trying to figure out how to tell her, she started dating someone. I don’t know how serious they are, but they’re definitely together. My dilemma is that I want to tell her, but I feel like if I did now, while she’s with someone, she’d just say no and resent me for trying to get in the middle of whatever she has with this guy now. On the other hand, I feel like if I don’t tell her, we’ll just drift further and further apart once we go to college and I’ll never have a better chance than now.

I don’t want to come off as passive-aggressive because I’d like to think this is different. I honestly just want her to be happy – always have – but I’ve realized that I want to be the one to do that.

I have more, but I’m gonna end this spiel here and see if you guys have anything for me.

Thanks,
~Turtle

 

Rake says:

We get a lot of these messages. Here’s the deal:

1)      If you know her well enough to know that you two would be a good match, then you know her well enough to know if she is already interested in a relationship with you. I’ll expand on that in a moment.

2)      If she is not interested, then it is UP TO YOU to get her interested.  I can’t stress this enough.  To all the people who even dare use the term “nice guy” in relation to themselves: you are not entitled to attraction.  You must create it.  This is your personal responsibility.

3)      Comments like, “Her boyfriend is mean to her, didn’t give her the attention she deserved,” let me know that you don’t respect her enough to know what she wants and trust her to go after it.  Now, I’m not sure that you in particular are doing this, but we see this all the time: guy complains about how another guy is mistreating his princess, when in reality the “princess” in question prefers a guy who gives her space and speaks bluntly over a dude who is just looking for an excuse to put on his metaphorical plate armor and flowing white cape to “rescue” her.  Assuming she needs rescuing is fucking condescending and I’m sick of it.  Women are bad ass mothers!  They grow up with a lot of shit to deal with and they are usually pretty tough and have a better idea of what they do and don’t want than men do.  Give them some credit already.

Unless, of course, you’ve seen evidence that the relationship in question is actually *abusive* (i.e. he’s been physically violent, verbally threatening, or emotionally abusive—not just *neglectful* but actively and purposefully cruel—to her and you’ve witnessed it or seen the immediate aftermath).  In which case you shouldn’t be sitting around sulking about it, you should be GETTING HER THE FUCK OUT OF THERE!  Like, yesterday.

4)      You haven’t failed to talk to her about this because you were “confused by feelings.”  You didn’t talk to her because you were scared and probably dishonest with yourself about your relationship with her.  Most likely, the reality is that you are fixated on a fantasy of who you think this girl is and what you think things would be like with her.

Getting to know someone is an interesting thing.  Often times you filter your idea of them through your own desires.  Did you REALLY get to know her, did you get her to prove to you that she would be good relationship material?  If the answer is no, then you do NOT know her well enough to be worrying about asking her to leave a guy for you.  Get to know her and get her to prove herself to you.   Feel that you are worth it.  Realize there are lots of girls out there, and the chances are that there are better girls out there for you than this one.

And if you genuinely don’t believe you’re worth it, then don’t go foisting your lame ass onto her.  Be valuable so that she can be with someone who is valuable.

Meanwhile, you need to make your interest in other things aside from her very real.  You need to be inviting her to do things with you because you aren’t sure that you two will work and she needs to prove it to you.  And you need to be interesting enough that she wants to go along.  And because she is with someone, invite him along.  And have a girl of your own there too.  This has to be an honest attempt to assess the situation, not just a sneaky backdoor route to her heart/pants.

Once you’re really sure that this girl is worth fighting for, and that you two would be great together, just boldly tell her the truth.  Go up like it’s the most casual conversation ever and say, “Hey Sheila, look: I’m a moron.  I totally missed the boat on asking you out.  I hope you are happy with this bloke, but I needed to get it off my chest that I’m into you.”  Then change the subject WITHOUT letting it become a huge, heavy conversation.

In any case, you both need an injection of truth and reality.

Rake

 

Twist says:

Dear Turtle,

You sound very bright. I’m guessing that you already have a sense of what is happening, but perhaps don’t want to face it just yet. She is not interested in you right now. You know it already, right? If she were giving you a lot of verbal or non-verbal indicators of interest (IOIs), you would have picked up on them over four years. It is rare to convert a 4-year friendship into a romantic one, even for the best attraction artists. You’re instincts are telling you that now is not the right time to tell this person how you feel, and I think that you should follow that inkling. Don’t profess your feelings for her just yet.

Here are the main messages from your note:

  • You’ve known her for four years
  • No flirtation or IOIs from her
  • She’s dated multiple people throughout your friendship
  • You’re reticent to talk about your attraction to her, because you want to seem like a nice guy and you don’t want to ruin your friendship.

Are all of these correct?

This last point highlights a major challenge that many thoughtful, kind young men face. Being “nice” as a teenage male has been erroneously associated with being passive in all of your romantic interests. You don’t want to be to be viewed as a threatening, aggressive jerk. You’re not just trying to sleep with her. You care about her as a person and find her alluring and interesting. But the world has told you that to be an upstanding citizen you need to remain quiet about your passion for other people. This couldn’t be more wrong.

Imagine what your life might be like if you allowed yourself to speak openly, confidently, and casually about your attraction to her. You might have gotten her attention for your ease in expressing yourself. You might have created a precedent where she thought of you as a potential partner. If nothing else, you would have gone through high school knowing that you took a risk with a girl and lived to tell the tale. If she wasn’t interested in you, you would have moved on knowing that you tried but it didn’t work. From the tone of your note it sounds like you spent a lot of time waiting around for this person to notice you.

It sounds like you are about to head to college, where you will meet countless new people. You’ll be attracted to many of them. Here’s what we want you to remember: if you express it in a friendly, upbeat, casual manner, most people like being told that they are attractive. Finding the confidence and self-awareness to communicate this way takes practice. We encourage you to take reasonable risks to put yourself “out there.” You might have a few embarrassing moments, but those experiences are necessary to eventually become comfortable expressing yourself. You can find a lot of pointers on our blog.

Stay in touch with the woman you told us about in your letter. Perhaps the next time she sees you, she’ll meet a more confident, casual, upbeat version of yourself. The kind of guy she would love to date!

Good luck,

Twist

 

Ava says:

Hi Turtle,

Okay, something I noticed right off the bat:

“My dilemma is that I want to tell her, but I feel like if I did now, while she’s with someone, she’d just say no and resent me for trying to get in the middle of whatever she has with this guy now.”

Given that you worry “she’d just say no,” it’s clear to me that you don’t just want to tell her how you feel. Telling isn’t asking, so there’s nothing to say yes or no to. What you actually want is to find out whether or not she feels the same way. But, given your disconsolate attitude, I’m pretty sure you already know the answer to that question.

Because here’s the thing: if she were already into you, into you enough to react well to an impromptu confession of love while she’s with some other dude, she would’ve made it obvious to you during that short window when she was single. So either she sent you signals and you missed them (unlikely since you were clearly watching for them), she sent you signals and you didn’t act on them, or, more likely, she didn’t send you any signals because, at this point, SHE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU. You are a friend to her, and nothing more, because no sexual tension has been created/established between the two of you.

In any case, there is only one possible solution, and NO, it does not involve getting drunk and pouring your heart out all over this poor girl. In fact, it’s a good thing you wrote before you acted, because you still have an opportunity to save this, and if you’d already put emotional pressure on her, you wouldn’t.

Don’t tell her how you feel, *show* her why she should have romantic/sexual feelings for *you*. Create the tension that has been missing and arouse in her the *desire* for you to have feelings for her. If you don’t do that, telling her your feelings is nothing more than cheap emotional manipulation that will destroy your friendship and probably make her resent you, just like you feared.

Basically, you need to impress this girl. You need to do something that is going to blow her mind and make her see you in a whole new light. And then you need to BACK OFF. Disappear for a while, even. Make her miss you, make her aware of what you brought to the table by taking it away for a period of time. A couple of weeks ought to do the trick.

If she chases you, it’s time to make your move. If not, let it go, man. Because it’s just never going to happen.

Ava